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August 2020

A Clan of Cousins

I love all of my cousins on my mother’s side of the family.  In the good old days, we would meet in New York for an occasional theater weekend. Last August, we were all in Medellin, Colombia for a wedding.  

So I was delighted when we figured out that everyone was in New England at the same time this August.  We made a plan to meet in the garden in back of our apartment building for a bring-your-own-lunch reunion.  Everyone was under three hours away from Cambridge—they came from Connecticut, Rhode Island and nearby Marblehead, Massachusetts.

It was probably the most beautiful day of the summer.  An occasional cloud, but a reasonable temperature, low humidity and a perfect breeze.  We gathered in a big circle.  Lots of catching up, and lots of laughing. Almost no politics

And for three hours, life was pre-pandemic..

An Advertising First for 80-Something

I have been writing this blog for more than twelve years. In that time, I’ve turned down many requests to carry advertisements.  I’ve turned them down because writing 80-Something is my pleasure, not my job.  But I am so excited about a new organization, Live College Tours by Nylie, that I have to tell you about it. is a website that makes it possible for high school students thinking about which colleges to apply to, to “visit” the campuses they are considering without incurring the costs of having to go there.  (It also makes it possible for students attending those colleges to earn some money by giving live one-on-one tours of their campus via smartphone.) College-bound kids can sit on their sofas at home and have a customized tour of any schools they might apply to.

If you know a child trying to choose colleges or the parent or grandparent of such a child or anyone with children or grandchildren in college who would like to be a (paid) guide please send them to Live Campus Tours. Our son Seth is one of the founders.

Be sure to tell them that Judy Kugel sent you.

A Family of Entrepreneurs

Fifty years ago, I was going to stay home with our first baby (Seth)and I wanted something to do when I wasn’t busy taking care of him.

Peter had developed some educational games as a consultant for the Department of Defense, one of which was intended to explain to players how computers work.  After the military rejected it, we decide to manufacture and market it ourselves.  We eventually managed to sell about 10% of our inventory.   We had enough unsold scoring pads for thirty years of grocery lists.

Upon the birth of our second child (Jeremy), I started a non-profit called The Boston Project for Careers with two friends.  Its purpose was to make it easier for people (mostly women) who had stayed home with their children get back into work by developing part-time positions.  We spoke with employers to develop jobs and counseled clients about the job hunt.  It was fun, but its time came and went.  Not sure why.

More than ten years ago, Jeremy created a company called “Jasmere” that had a daily item on sale and the buyer who agreed to pay a certain price might pay less at the end of the day if there were enough additional buyers.  Great idea, lots of work and eventually sold.

Last week our grandson (Leo) joined his father (Jeremy) and his uncle (Seth) to announce the debut of a startup called Nylie.

Stay tuned.

The Joy of Lying

For decades, our alarm woke me up at 6:10 on weekday mornings.  And although we rarely set our alarm now-a-days, I am usually awake by 6:10 anyway. Peter is often out of bed even earlier. 

Recently, I discovered the joy of staying in bed for a while. As I lie there, I think about last night’s dreams or what I want to accomplish on the day ahead. Sometimes, I just watch the room become brighter.  Sometimes I think about what I will share on 80-something.

What I can’t understand is why I waited for seven years after retiring to adopt this great habit.

Modern Entertaining

Modern Entertaining

Back in the seventies, we did a lot of entertaining.  We didn’t start dinner parties until after 8:00 so the kids would be asleep.  And we also dressed up.  We have a photo a baby sitter took of Peter and me holding a baby (not sure which one) in front of our fireplace before we went out, Peter in jacket and tie and me in a plaid-floor-length, scoop-necked dress, taken by the baby-sitter right before we headed off to friends for dinner.

Things changed long before Covid-19.  Working mothers (and fathers) didn’t have time to simmer coq au vin so dinner parties were less “Julia Child” and more “Rachel Ray”.

Enter Covid-19.  We started by inviting friends to the garden behind our apartment building, offering them water in paper cups.  Lately, we’ve upgraded to take-out pizza. 

Who knows what the future of entertaining will be?


Last Wednesday, I dropped Peter off for an appointment with his eye doctor.  Because they don’t let you into the building unless you have an appointment, I decided to try and find a shady place outside to read the paper while I waited.

I have been in that medical building a zillion times and never knew that there was a lovely tree-shaded bike path with sculpture and benches right behind it. 

It turned out to be a long appointment so after I finished the paper, I took a walk along the bike path and got back just as Peter finished.

Having to take Peter to so many medical appointments is kind of like life giving you lemons.  On a beautiful summer Wednesday last week I “made lemonade”.

Look Alikes

I have a new friend that people seem to think I look like.  I am flattered because she is beautiful, but I believe it is our height (tall), our weight (slim) and our haircuts (similar) that causes the mix-up.

I’ve lost count of how many times both men and women have stopped me on the street, saying “Hi Ann!” 

But the biggest surprise of all came the other day when I was close to home, fully masked, after a long hot walk.

“Hi Ann,” shouted a woman coming toward me.  “Not Ann,” I replied.  Her response surprised me.  “Well, you sure look like her from the eyes up.”

At a reasonable distance, I removed my mask for five seconds to show her I wasn’t Ann.

And I chuckled the rest of the way home.

Wendy and Hal

On a May afternoon when I was a sophomore in college, I sat on my dorm bed and waited for the phone to ring (down the hall!). My sister-in-law was in labor. After an interminable wait, I learned that I had a beautiful niece named Wendy.

Today, sixty-three years later, Wendy is a successful entrepreneur, author and speaker. But we have not been close. 

Until Zoom.

On Friday evening. Peter and I spent two hours catching up with Wendy and her husband Hal. We chatted and laughed like the good friends we should have been all along.  I have no idea how or why it took so long to happen, but I am thrilled to have her back in my life.  And when this pandemic thing ends, we will celebrate.

Without Zoom

How Old I Am!


I don’t feel like I’m eighty-two.  Most of the time, I feel fifty-ish. But of late, I’ve seen some signs that I am not.  For example, our staple house jam is orange marmalade.  Yet when I bought a new jar home the other day, it was apricot jam. 

I seem to be dropping things or knocking over glasses or forgetting what I came into the kitchen for more than I used to. Sometimes I lose track of where I am in my exercise routine, and I’m really not clear about what a meme is.

I can live with all of the above.  But last week when I let a glass bowl slide off the kitchen counter and shatter into a million pieces, requiring me to throw away two big scoops of coffee ice cream, I realized that my best years might be behind me.